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Does Auto Insurance Cover Bicycle Accidents?

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Cycling has become increasingly popular in this state as a preferred exercise and recreation method, as well as an everyday mode of transportation for many individuals. However, bicyclists face more risks on the roadway than those riding in traditional passenger vehicles. The number of bicycle accident injuries has risen in California. Those injured due to the careless or negligent actions of another driver need to know whether or not the at-fault driver’s insurance will cover the costs of their injuries and property damage.

Who Caused the Accident?

If you are riding a bicycle, your auto insurance policy typically will not cover any injuries you sustained while riding if the injuries were caused by your own negligence. Auto insurance will also likely not cover injuries caused by defects in the roadway. For example, if you are riding your bike and hit a deep pothole, causing you to lose control of your bike and break your arm, your auto insurance likely will not provide any coverage for your injuries or property damage. However, you may still be covered through your personal health insurance. You may also be able to file a lawsuit against a property owner through a premises liability lawsuit.

If the bicycle accident was caused by another driver, then their auto insurance should cover the driver’s liability for any injuries and property damage associated with the accident. In California, all drivers must carry the following insurance to remain legal on the roadway:

  • $15,000 for injury or death to one person
  • $30,000 for injury or death to more than one person
  • $5,000 for damage to property

If the driver was at fault for the bicycle accident, then their liability coverage will be responsible for the bicyclist’s medical costs, up to the limits of their coverage. If a driver has the minimum coverage, that means the bicyclist could receive up to $15,000 for their injury expenses and up to $5,000 for their property damage.

If the cost of the bicycle accident exceeds the minimum policy amounts, the insurance carrier of the at-fault driver will only pay the legal minimum. If the injured cyclist sustains severe injuries, it is very likely their cost of care will exceed $15,000. In order to recover compensation beyond the insurance minimum, the injured cyclist may have to file a personal injury lawsuit against the at-fault driver.

How Often Do These Incidents Occur?

According to the California Office of Traffic Safety (OTS), there were over 11,000 bicycle accident injuries and 124 bicycle crash deaths in the latest reporting year across this state. Due to the vulnerability of bicyclists, a high percentage of reported accidents result in fatalities or injuries. Even if a bicyclist is wearing a helmet, their bodies are not made to sustain an impact from a vehicle that weighs thousands of pounds. It is not uncommon for a bicyclist to sustain the following injuries in a crash:

  • Spinal cord injuries
  • Traumatic brain injuries
  • Severe lacerations
  • Bone fractures or dislocations
  • Dismemberment or amputation
  • Loss of or damage to a bodily organ
  • Significant disfigurement

What if a Bicyclist Strikes Someone Else?

It is important to understand that bicycles are treated as regular vehicles on the roadway. A bicyclist must follow all traffic laws, just like other drivers. If a bicyclist strikes a pedestrian or another bicyclist, they could be held liable for injuries they cause. In these cases, a bicyclist could face a personal injury lawsuit from the person they strike and injure.

If you or someone you love were injured while riding a bike, get in touch with an Orange County bicycle accident lawyer for legal advice.

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